An alternative to the cynical PR posturing of the biotech industry -- a new global appeal to help distribute India's huge surpluses of food to the hungry. http://www.biotech-info.net/global_appeal.html
GM trials face delay as crops destroyed
Company examines damage to six test sites
Saturday June 9, 2001
Six out of 13 of Britain's GM oil seed rape trials have been covertly destroyed by opponents in the past few weeks, potentially delaying for at least a year the future commercialisation of the controversial crop.
The pharmaceutical giant Aventis yesterday admitted that the attacks, all of which were on seeds developed by the company, had taken place but declined to say whether the damage would affect the data they were designed to collect. The trials are a legal step before the crops can be given a commercial licence.
A spokesman for Aventis said the attacks were "unhelpful" and that evaluations of the damage were still being made. Opponents claimed that five trial sites were destroyed and one was 80% damaged.
Two more are believed to have failed naturally, reducing the country-wide testing programme to just five oil seed rape trial sites, all of which are now believed to be in danger. Government scientists may be forced to declare that they have not received enough data to recommend commercialisation.
With more than 30 of the government's 104 large scale GM crop trials opposed by local communities, organic farmers and national organisations, Friends of the Earth (FoE) predicted that many more crops could be destroyed over the next few months. "Most of the large scale trial sites have only just been planted and there are a lot of very angry people out there," said Adrian Bebb of FoE. "It's hard to see how the anger will subside. GM will not go away."
Yesterday, the only trial site in the Highlands, near Inverness, was damaged for the second time in two weeks following strong local and national opposition . A campaigner for Scottish Genetix Action said the action was "an inevitable consequence of the government ignoring local democracy."
The destruction of crops in Britain, which has been mirrored in Belgium in the past month, follows several high profile abandonments of trials by farmers in south Wales and near Coventry.
Community challenges to crops proposed near Mathry in Pembrokeshire and one near the Henry Doubleday organic research station in Warwickshire have set a precedent, and a legal case to prevent GM crops being grown near organic farms is being considered by the Soil Association. Research by Greenpeace and the association has shown that 31 of this year's trials are near an organic farm.
Yesterday the government was accused of ducking the GM issue by refusing to send a minister or civil servants to an EU environment meeting in Brussels today where the European commission will present controversial proposals to allow foods containing traces of GM ingredients to be sold in Europe with GM-free labels. It is believed that Britain supports the proposals.
The commission's plan follows heavy lobbying from the US, the world's biggest producer of GM crops.